How to Switch a Standard Outlet to a USB Enhanced Model

12 January 2017
 Categories: , Blog


You may be deciding upon various gifts for your love on Valentine's Day, such as a warm electric blanket or even a new featherweight tablet for streaming movies in bed.

If you really want to be thoughtful, you should consider how they will plug an extra appliance into the outlet near the bed. The receptacles are already likely to be filled with a lamp plug and the ever present phone charging block.

You can make it convenient for your love to add one or more appliances by installing a USB enhanced outlet in place of the current one.

What is a USB enhanced outlet?

A USB enhanced outlet has the same two receptacles as a traditional outlet, but instead of a blank space in the center, it has either one or two USB ports.

This allows the precious receptacles to remain free of USB adapter charging blocks and available for more appliances.

What do you need to switch to a USB enhanced outlet?

The outlet

You can buy these outlets online or at any home improvement store.

Open face plate

Unlike the face (cover) plate that fits over your old outlet, an open face plate is simply a rectangular frame, leaving the center portion open for access to the USB ports.

Flat head and Philips head screwdrivers

These can also be purchased online or at a home improvement store.

Removing the old outlet

The most important part of any electrical task is turning off the power to the area in which you will be working. You can turn off the power to the outlet by turning off the circuit breaker that controls the flow of power to the circuit.

The location controlled by each breaker should be marked inside of the door of the breaker box. If it is not, or you are unsure of which breaker to turn off, plug a working appliance into the outlet and turn it on.

When the correct breaker is turned off, the appliance will stop working.

When the power is off, remove the old face plate by removing the center screw, then loosen the two diagonally placed screws that hold the outlet in place inside the gang box in the wall.

Pull the outlet from the wall and let it hang, then remove the outlet by disconnecting the wires from the screw terminals on the sides. If there are two sets of three wires, keep them separated.

Installing the USB enhanced outlet 

Place the sub-plate that holds the open face plate in place around the outlet before connecting the wires.

If one set of three wires is present, connect the black wire to the top brass terminal by looping the wire around the screw and tightening the screw until it is secured. Connect the white wire to the top silver terminal in the same fashion, and connect the green or copper colored wire to the green terminal at the top of the outlet

If a second set of three wires is present, connect the black and white wires to the bottom terminals in the same manner. The second green or copper wire can share the single green terminal.

Push the outlet into the gang box inside the wall and tighten the two diagonal securing screws, snap the face plate onto the sub-plate, turn on the breaker, and you're finished.

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